They went to be counselors in a Kefiada, one of a string of English-language camps in Jewish federations’ Partnership ‘000 cities. Their camp was in Nahariya, the sister city of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey that became a target of Hezbollah rockets. (See page 7.) "Kefiada" means "cool," "fun," and "exciting," but for the six Teaneck teens, that last definition may have eclipsed the others.
As of Wednesday, ‘1-year-old Sarah Steinbach had arrived home and ‘0-year-old Jared Nelson was reportedly on his way. Suzanne Solomon, ‘0, and Yaffa Atlas, ”, were expected home Sunday night, and two others, David Gruskin, 19, and Gavi Lewy-Neuman, ‘0, were planning to stay in Israel.
In a happy moment in Nahariya before the program was closed are local teens, from left, Sarah Steinbach, David Gruskin, Jared Nelson, Yaffa Atlas, Suzanne Solomon (with child on her lap), and Gavi Lewy-Neuman. Photo courtesy of UJA-NNJ
David, his mother Mara said on Tuesday, was "staying with a friend of a friend of a friend" in Jerusalem and on Sunday "will move over to Yeshiva Aish Hatorah" there.
"I’m comfortable with him staying," she said, "because I understand why he’s staying; I understand that there are times in history where people are moved and want to get involved and want to take a stand. And I feel that he’s doing the right thing, and I feel he’s going to be safe, so I don’t think he’s in great danger."
A recent graduate of Teaneck High School, David is the grandson of Harry Steinberg, a longtime Zionist "who was instrumental in the creation of Israel," said Mara Gruskin. "He worked for about 18 months in Hollywood and in Central America, getting the Central American governments to vote for partition [of then Palestine] in the United Nations."
She added, "You can’t blame a kid if this is what you always taught him. You can’t be surprised if this is the upbringing that he got."
Gavi’s father, Abe Neuman, said on Tuesday that she is staying with her mother in Jerusalem and would be back early in August. He added that his wife, Rita, "is there with my son Moshe doing all sorts of pre-bar mitzvah chesed projects. Gavi is going to be accompanying my wife and son doing whatever chesed opportunities they can find," such as packing up food for the needy, "and visiting family and friends."
Judy Solomon, Suzanne’s mother, said her daughter is "very disappointed that the program has been closed, but I guess it’s a time when people there need to focus their energy on their own people rather than worrying where to assign a volunteer."
She and her husband, Alex, have a 17-year-old daughter, Ariella, in Israel, on the same Young Judaea program Suzanne had been on the year before. "Ariella is staying," said her mother, "and will return on Aug. 1, when she intended to return."
"It’s very upsetting," Solomon said. "I worry about my children but I really worry about everybody: the citizens of Israel and about cousins and relatives and friends and everyone who has to live under such stress."